Hurdles and delays abound in Florida’s medical marijuana (MMJ) program, according to Paul Armentano, Deputy Director for NORML, and have resulted in a handful of lawsuits brought forth by patients, MMJ businesses and advocacy groups.
A group of Florida patients and growers filed a lawsuit over the state’s failure to meet deadlines associated with the state’s 2016 voter-approved law, and Armentano said the litigation is indicative of the fact that even in jurisdictions where cannabis measures are approved by popular vote, the rollout of the program can be delayed due to politicians’ and regulators’ lack of support.
“To see these delayed rollouts is predictable when they are enacted in jurisdictions where the majority of politicians and regulators are not in favor of a fully functional program,” Armentano said. “And that is clearly the case in Florida where lawmakers have amended the intent of the law as passed by voters, where regulators have failed to meet legislative deadlines, where regulators are behind on issuing licenses to individual organizations and where regulators have yet to meet their mandate with regard to providing licensed access to medical cannabis,” Armentano said.
Navigating the Legal Landscape
Under current state law, Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) must be vertically integrated, meaning they must cultivate, process and sell directly to patients, and they are not able to contract with third-party providers that provide services related to these core functions, said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, the state’s first fully licensed MMTC.
“There are definitely challenges related to that, and there are technologies and certain products we would love to be able to bring to market in Florida, but because of that particular restriction, we’re prevented from doing that,” she said.
Florida’s medical marijuana law has changed dramatically since it was initially passed in 2014 as a CBD